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Jun 10, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Adelphia’s L.A. unit files for Chapter 11

Century Communications Corp., the Los Angeles unit of troubled cable operator Adelphia Communications Corp., filed today for bankruptcy protection.

The filing, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, came as Adelphia revised both sales and subscriber numbers downward and fired Deloitte & Touche as its auditor.

Coudersport, Pa.-based Adelphia, the nation’s sixth-largest multiple system operator, is facing both regulatory and legal investigations, as well as a cash crunch. Leonard Tow, Adelphia’s largest shareholder, has resigned from its board, citing “revelations of the unreliability of corporate data as well as the ongoing serial disclosures of wrongdoing,” according to a report by Reuters. The Chapter 11 filing may make it easier for Adelphia to sell off the L.A. unit and other cable systems to raise money to meet looming bond interest and dividend payments, according to the report.

AOL TW does cross-platform deal with Principal Financial Group: AOL Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting and Time Inc. units have done a one-year cross-media deal with the Principal Financial Group, a Fortune 500 company with more than $120 billion in assets. The deal provides for PFG TV spots in CNN’s “American Morning,” “News Night,” “Larry King Live,” “Reliable Sources,” “Late Edition” and “CNN Daybreak,” as well as in CNN Headline News, CNNfn and CNN Airport Network, and PFG print ads in such Fortune and Money “list” issues as “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” and “Best Places to Retire. The deal also has online and other print components. Terms of the pact were not disclosed.

KCOP gaining ground at 11 p.m.: After moving its 10 p.m. news to 11 p.m. on June 3, Fox-owned UPN affiliate KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, has already reached within one rating point of KCBS-TV. Last Friday from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., KCBS received a 2.1 Nielsen Media Research rating and 4 share while newcomer to the time slot KCOP earned a 2.0/4.

Brandy gets MTV reality miniseries: Singer/actress Brandy (“Moesha”) will be getting the “Osbournes” treatment from MTV in a reality miniseries documenting her life. “Diary Presents: Brandy-Special Delivery,” which debuts June 18, tracks the 23-year-old as she balances the demands of career and family, including impending motherhood.

Group asks FCC to limit financial interest in programming: The Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors has asked the Federal Communications Commission to adopt regulations limiting the ability of national broadcast and cable TV systems to take financial interests in the programming they carry. According to the caucus, absent the limits, the major TV networks and their Hollywood studio partners have regularly demanded — and received — copyright and distribution rights as a condition to get on their broadcast distribution systems, quashing independent production.

“In order to maximize the number of voices available to the American public, the commission should begin to untangle the intertwined webs between transmission, distribution a and production,” the caucus said in a June 7 letter (released today) to FCC Chairman Michael Powell. “The pattern of self-dealing and preferential access that defines both cable and broadcast television needs to be unwound,” the caucus continued. The caucus also recommended a specific rule that would bar cable systems and national broadcast networks from acquiring interests in more than 30 percent of the shows or program services they carry. In addition, the rule would prohibit cable systems from filling more than 15 percent of their channel capacity with commonly owned networks.

Under the proposed rule, cable and direct broadcast systems reaching more than 30 percent of the total cable universe would also be barred from having financial interests in program services altogether. The caucus also endorsed a recent request by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., and other key lawmakers urging the agency to launch a wide-ranging study of media industry concentration and its impact on program diversity. “The inherent promise of new technology has been tarnished and broken by the immense control of new media by vertically and horizontally integrated bully boys,” the caucus said.

Swanson elected NATAS national chairman: Dennis Swanson, president and general manager at WNBC-TV, New York, has been elected national chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He succeeds Stanley Hubbard. In other news at WNBC, the station broke the story this afternoon that convicted mob boss John Gotti Sr. has died at a federal medical prison, following a battle with neck cancer. The story was reported by Jonathan Dienst.

Woodruff to anchor ABC’s ‘World News Tonight Saturday’: ABC News’ London-based correspondent Bob Woodruff has been reassigned to serve as lead anchor of “World News Tonight Saturday.” As part of an appointment made by ABC News President David Westin, Mr. Woodruff will relocate to New York, where he will continue to serve as a correspondent for a number of programs, including “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight.” Mr. Woodruff will alternate 6 p.m. (ET) Saturday anchoring duties on “World News” with Elizabeth Vargas.

Since the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Woodruff has reported extensively on the war against terrorism from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and on the crisis in the Middle East. In addition, he covered the bombing of Yugoslavia in May and June of 1999, and the Serb surrender and withdrawal from Kosovo. He has also served as a frequent substitute news anchor for “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Woodruff was assigned to ABC News’ London bureau in September 2000. Prior to his London assignment, he was ABC News’ justice correspondent, based in the network’s Washington bureau. He was previously the Midwest regional correspondent for NewsOne, ABC’s affiliate news service. He joined ABC News from the ABC affiliate in Phoenix, KNXV-TV, where he had been a general assignment reporter since 1994.

FCC denies requests to extend DTV construction deadlines: The Federal Communications Commission’s media bureau has denied requests by at least 36 stations for six more months to build their digital television facilities. The bureau has also sent written reprimands to the stations for missing the May 1 construction deadline. Stations can be fined or have their licenses revoked if they fail to justify failure to construct DTV facilities. Nearly 200 stations have extension requests pending.

Game 3 of NBA Finals puts NBC in first place: NBC’s Game 3 telecast of the NBA Finals — in which the Los Angeles Lakers took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the New Jersey Nets — held the advantage in the ratings Sunday night against summer repeat programming on the other networks. However, those who were not interested in basketball were tuning in to Fox’s second airing of the reality series “Looking for Love: Bachelorettes In Alaska,” which had Fox coming in second for night in the key adult demos.

Preliminary fast national data from Nielsen Media Research had the 8:30 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) portion of Lakers-Nets game averaging a top-ranked 4.9 rating/14 share among adults 18 to 49 and roughly 11.1 million total viewers. The game, which aired until roughly 11:15 p.m., averaged a winning 7.6/14 for 21/2 hour span.

Final national data, which much more accurately reflects the ratings of live event programming, will be released by Nielsen later this afternoon.

Fox, which featured a slate of rerun comedies from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., still kept the lights during the 9 p.m. hour with “Bachelorettes in Alaska” posting second-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (2.6/7) and adults 18 to 34 (3.0/9). “Bachelorettes” was up 8 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 25 percent in adults 18 to 34 from last week’s debut averages.

NBC won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.6/14), and Fox came in second (2.8/9), while the lineups for CBS (1.7/5) and ABC (1.6/5) consisted entirely of repeat fare.

Viewers drawn to Belmont Stakes: NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s 134th Belmont Stakes, in which featuring 70-1 long shot winner Sarava thwarted
War Emblem’s (in ninth place) chances of winning the elusive Triple Crown, generated the highest overnight ratings for any horse race since 1992.

The 11/2-mile New York race and final leg of the Triple Crown drew a 9.2 rating/21 share household average (5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. ET) in Nielsen Media Research’s overnight metered markets.

The 9.2 rating represents the highest overnight rating for any horse race since the 1992 Kentucky Derby, which earned a 9.5/26, and the highest Belmont Stakes since 1987, tying ABC’s 9.2/25 for Alysheba’s unsuccessful Triple Crown bid.

This is the first year NBC had the broadcast rights to the Triple Crown racing series (including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness), which had been previously held by ABC.

NBC’s preliminary overnight rating is also 39 percent better than the last time a Triple Crown had been on the line — for Charismatic’s failed attempt in 1999 — when ABC’s telecast delivered a 6.6/17 metered market household score. Saturday’s telecast, which peaked from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a 12.5/28, bested last year’s Belmont Stakes broadcast of a 4.9/13 by 88 percent when no Triple Crown was on the line.

West Palm Beach, Fla., earned the highest metered market rating with a 17.5/32, followed by Fort Myers, Fla., with a 15.2/28 and Louisville, Ky.’s 14.9/31. New York earned a 11.2/26. National ratings will be available on Thursday.

Heritage Networks adds ‘Steve Harvey,’ ‘Cosby’ to fall schedule: The Heritage Networks announced on Monday that it has acquired syndicated barter sales rights to “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Cosby” and will add the two series to its syndicated programming lineup for the 2002-03 season. The Heritage Networks, founded in 1993 by President Frank Mercado-Valdes, produces and acquires television programming targeted to ethnic and other niche markets. Its programs reach 85 percent of the U.S. population and 95 percent of African American homes.

Original series added to Fine Living lineup: Fine Living will add a half-hour series, “Simplify Your Life”, and a new one-hour special “Born American” to its fall lineup. On “Simplify Your Life,” experts will show viewers how to organize and make their lives easier. “Born American” will explore those things that make the American culture unique. The network has also granted early pickup to four of its most popular shows — “Radical Sabbatical,” “Your Private Island,” “The Genuine Article” and “Breathing Room.”

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications